Maple & Pumpkin Soft Pretzel Wreath

Soft pretzels, fall edition. These bread wreaths are flavored with pumpkin puree, maple syrup and spices. All with the soft pretzel crust. They are best when they are hot, right out of the oven. You can make them any shape you wish, I just went with wreaths this time. It’s easier if you make them small, since the dough is quite soft. If you make them too big, you risk the dough falling apart while transferring it to and from the water bath. So keep that in mind. This is not a very sweet pretzel, but you can always brush it with a bit of melted butter after it is baked and sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar on top.

This recipe makes 3 medium wreaths.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 cup of warm water

1 package of dry yeast (7gr)

2 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

¾ cup of pumpkin puree

1 ½ tablespoons of maple syrup

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

½ teaspoon of ginger powder

½ teaspoon of nutmeg

For the water bath:

10 cups of boiling water

2/3 cup of baking soda

For the maple egg wash:

1 egg

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Extras:

Vegetable oil

 

 

To make the pumpkin puree, just chop a small pumpkin into chunks (skin and all). Place it in a microwave-safe plate. Cover it with plastic film and microwave it for 10 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Then remove the seeds and scoop out the pumpkin flesh. Place the pumpkin flesh in a bowl and mash it. Allow it to cool down.

Place the warm water and the yeast in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients for the dough. Knead the dough with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Do it on low speed for about 5 minutes, until it stops sticking to the edges and it forms a ball. You can also knead it by hand.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with some vegetable oil. Place the dough back in the greased bowl and cover with plastic film. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment with vegetable oil.

Start making the water bath. Mix the boiling water with the baking soda in a large pot.  Make sure it is not completely filled to the top because the baking soda bubbles a bit. Leave the heat on medium, while you work on the dough.

Place the dough in your working area sprinkled with a bit of flour. Divide the dough into 3 pieces.

Grab one piece and roll it into a rope of about 40 cm, then slice it into 2 lengthwise. Twist together the 2 halves and then pinch the ends together to seal them. Finally form a circle with it, tuck the ends underneath and give it a pinch to seal them. Repeat for the other 2 pieces of dough. It’s better not to make them too big. The circumference of each wreath shouldn’t be that much bigger than the circumference of your slotted spoon, otherwise it’s going to be hard to place it and remove it from the water bath. The dough is quite soft and you don’t want it to fall apart.

Place one wreath in the water bath for 30 seconds. Then carefully remove it from the water using a large slotted spoon an place it on the prepared baking tray (once you place it in the parchment paper, you can’t move the wreath anymore until it is baked, so keep that in mind). Repeat for the other wreaths.

Once they are all done, brush them with the maple egg wash.

Bake them for about 10 minutes until golden. Serve warm.

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Beer Cheese Fondue

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I have not been shy about my love for cheese. If you look at my Instagram account, you can see that I cannot go too long without it.  But it is only since I moved to the Netherlands, that I started to make cheese fondue. Not being a cold weather person, cheese fondue is something I do look forward to in the winter. I finally got a Fondue set which means I can finally serve it properly. This Fondue Set Pro is by the Dutch brand Boska. It specializes in everything to serve cheese. I’ve been using their cheese boards since last year and I really love their products. They are aesthetically pleasing and functional. And of course, not just for cheese. This fondue set comes with a 1 litter pot made out of cast iron and a stove with a burner which helps keep the cheese warm. It is very easy to clean. As it is cast iron, I just used very hot water to rinse it off. The cheese just came off without any effort. You can make enough cheese fondue in this pan for 6 people as an appetizer. But if you are having it as dinner like we did, it serves about 4 people.  You can see the fondue set pro by clicking here.

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Back to the cheese fondue, I went for a more German approach here by adding beer. Since we are in the Netherlands I also used a young Gouda, which adds more flavor since Emmental is pretty bland. Once ingredient that you might find uncommon here is the use of lemon juice, I read here that it helps with the stability of the cheese, and it actually goes well with the cheese.

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With the dippers, you can be creative. This time I served it with a baguette, homemade soft pretzels, endive leaves (which I really enjoyed), sautéed asparagus and Brussels sprouts, Thinly sliced black radishes and pear. But you can also add some meat like sliced sausages if you like.

This recipe serves 4 as a main course.

Ingredients:

For the fondue:

350grs of Emmental, grated

170grs of Gruyere, grated

250grs of Young Gouda, grated

330mil of Pilsner beer, plus a bit more to loosen up the fondue if needed (I used Flensburger beer)

1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch

Juice of ½ a lemon

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of white pepper

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon of mustard (optional)

1 clove of garlic, cut in half

For the dippers:

A baguette, sliced into cubes

Soft pretzels, you can find the recipe by clicking here.

Sautéed asparagus

Endive leaves

Sautéed Brussels sprouts

Pear, sliced

Black radish, thinly sliced

 

 

Before you start making the fondue, start prepping all your dippers.

To make the fondue, shred the cheeses and mix them with the cornstarch.

Rub the garlic clove all over the inside of a medium saucepan. Then add the beer and let it come to a simmer over medium heat. Then add 1 handful of the grated cheese and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese has completely melted. Then add another handful of cheese and continue stirring. Repeat until you are done with the grated cheese. Then add the lemon juice and spices to taste.

I really enjoyed this cheese fondue with mustard. Since I only had whole grain mustard and for the pictures I wanted the cheese to be completely smooth, I only added it after taking the pictures.

If the cheese gets too thick, you can always add a bit more beer at a time to loosen it up a bit.

Transfer the fondue to a preheated fondue pan and enjoy.

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Sweet Potato & Lentil Sliders on Homemade Mini Pretzel Buns

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I have been craving a veggie burger lately. I am a sucker for small food so I made sliders. Since my husband doesn’t love lentils, I made these with red lentils which don’t hold their shape. This makes it easier to mix them with other ingredients, therefore hiding them a bit. I cooked the lentils in vegetable stock to add more flavor. A panko coating makes this sliders super crunchy. The result was a delicious treat. My husband loved them. I only told him about the lentils afterwards.

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It’s hard to find good sliders buns here, so most of the times I just make my own. I used my Soft Pretzel Twists to make these mini pretzel buns. The ingredients are the same; there are just a few different steps.  Once the dough has risen, divide it into 16 equal pieces.  Then form each piece into a ball. Place the balls in the baking soda/water bath for 30 seconds. Then place them on a prepared baking tray (lined with parchment paper and lightly greased with vegetable oil).  Cut a cross in the middle of each bun, brush the tops with an egg wash and sprinkle with some sea salt. Bake for 8 minutes at 230C/450F. For the recipe of the pretzels just click here.

This recipe makes 14 sliders.

Ingredients:

For the sliders:

600gs of sweet potatoes

½ cup of red lentils

2 cups of vegetable stock

40grs of grated Parmesan

Pinch of onion powder

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of lemon pepper

Pinch of celery salt

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of pepper

1/3 cup of breadcrumbs

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

For the breading:

1 ½ cups of panko

½ cup of breadcrumbs

¼ teaspoon of Salt

¼ teaspoon of Celery salt

¼ teaspoon of Paprika

For the lime mayo:

7 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Juice of ½ a lime

Celery salt to taste

Extras:

2 avocados, sliced

A handful of frisse

Garden cress

Olive oil for pan-frying the sliders

 

Roast the sweet potatoes for 1 hour at 180C/350F.

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, start cooking the lentils. Place the lentils and vegetable stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until soft, stirring from time to time. This will take about 15 minutes. Once they are cooked, turn off the heat and let them dry out in the saucepan for 30 minutes.  Once the 30 minutes are up, mash them with the back of a wooden spoon.

To make the lime mayo, mix the mayo with the lime juice and celery salt. Set aside.

Once the sweet potatoes are done, peel them and place them in a large bowl. Mash them with a fork. Add the lentils and the rest of the ingredients for the sliders. Mix well.

Mix all of the ingredients for the breading in a bowl.

Grab about 2 tablespoons of the sweet potato mixture and form it into a ball. Coat the ball in the breading. Apply some pressure so it sticks. Repeat for all of the mixture.

Pour about 6 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, place 7 balls in the pan. With the help of a spatula, press each ball a bit to create a hamburger shape. Cook until they are evenly brown on each side.  Repeat for the rest of the sliders.

Serve on the mini pretzel buns, with some frisee on the bottom and top them with avocado, lime mayo and garden cress.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

 

Soft Pretzel Twists

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I have been having an on-and-off soft pretzel craving for at least two years. There is no Auntie Anne’s here or anything similar. They probably sell pretzels at some restaurants or cafes; but I haven’t thoroughly done my homework, since the craving would just come and go. I wanted to get one at the airport when we where in Lima this past November. But as cravings go, I didn’t feel like one when I got to the counter. And of course I regretted not getting one later on.

But since it has been on my to do list for a while, I finally decided to make them at home. They are super easy to make.  The time that you actually have to do something is minimal. They need an hour to rise and 8 minutes in the oven.  So I just set my timer while I was busy with other stuff.

This recipe makes 12 pretzels

Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 cup of warm water

1 package of dry yeast (7gr)

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 ½ teaspoons of salt

For the water bath:

10 cups of boiling water

2/3 cup of baking soda (here in the Netherlands, you can find it in a toko/asian store or in a pharmacy)

For the egg wash:

1 egg

1 tablespoon of water

Extras:

Coarse sea salt

Vegetable oil

 

Place the warm water and the yeast in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes.  Then add the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Knead the dough with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Do it on low speed for about 5 minutes, until it stops sticking to the edges and it forms a ball. You can also knead it by hand.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with some vegetable oil. Place the dough back in the greased bowl and cover with plastic film. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment with vegetable oil.

Start making the water bath. Mix the boiling water with the baking soda in a large pot.  Make sure it is not completely filled to the top because the baking soda bubbles a bit. Leave the heat on medium, while you work on the dough.

Place the dough in your working area.It is easier to roll them without any flour on the counter. Divide it into 12 equal pieces.

Roll out a piece into a 25cm rope. Fold the rope in half. Twist together the 2 halves and then pinch the ends together to seal them.  Repeat for all of the dough.

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Place the twists in the water bath for 30 seconds. I did 4 at a time.  Then remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and place each piece in the prepared baking tray.

Once they are all done, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle some coarse salt on top of each one.

Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown.

They are best when eaten fresh out of the oven. But you can also keep them until the next day and reheat them at 180C/350F for 5 minutes.

 

Note: I recently made them into knot shapes as an appetizer. I just divided the dough into 32 pieces, rolled each piece into a string and tied a knot. The rest of the process is the same.

pretzel knots collage

Great to pair with beer!!

pretzel knots

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